Trading was briefly suspended yesterday on the Moscow stock exchange as share prices continued their downward plunge. The benchmark RTS share price index fell by over nine percent. This reflected the decline in world oil prices, which fell yesterday to their lowest in ten years. Oil companies make up the bulk of Russian blue chips. It also reflected turmoil on world markets, alarm over Japan’s recession and the continuing crisis in Indonesia. The Russian stock market’s main index has fallen 70 percent since the beginning of the year, and has continued to sink despite the aid package agreed last month with the International Monetary Fund and other international lending organizations. The continuing slide on Russian markets aroused fresh fears that lack of investor confidence will undermine the government’s efforts to carry out the stabilization program agreed on with the IMF and force the Kremlin either to default on its loans or to devalue the ruble. Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko is planning to submit additional economic stabilization bills to the State Duma at an emergency session on August 19-20. (BBC, August 11; Financial Times, August 12)
RUSSIAN SECURITY CHIEF WINDS UP TALKS IN ISRAEL.